The Chicago Bulls may not call what they are doing during the offseason rebuilding, but make no mistake, that’s just what executive vice president John Paxson and general manager Gar Forman are doing with a team that struggled during the regular season and lost in the first round of the playoffs.
After last week’s trade of All-Star Jimmy Butler to the Minnesota Timberwolves and former Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau, the Bulls are clearly reshaping their franchise for the future.
When planning for the years to come, it seems obvious that the Bulls are going to want to emphasize their younger players.
In that case, what are they going to do with Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo? Both are veteran players with expensive contracts. Neither player figures to be a part of the team when it becomes competitive again, but Wade and Rondo know what it takes to keep a team in a game in the most crucial moments.
The Bulls have not made a decision yet on what to do with Rondo. One of the moves the team could make is waiving Rondo and then re-signing him at a lower salary, according to Bulls beat reporter K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune.
Sources have told Johnson that bringing Rondo back in the above-described manner is one possibility. Rondo is scheduled to earn $13.4 million next year, but if they waive him by June 30, they would owe him $3 million.
At one point in the year, that scenario seemed like it would be the way to go because Rondo was playing poorly. However, he upgraded his status with his performance down the stretch and in the playoffs against the Boston Celtics.
Wade has already informed the team that he is returning for the 2017-18 season at a salary of $23.8 million.
“You do need some veteran presence in the locker room, and Dwyane is a pro. He has seen a lot,” Paxson said, per Johnson. “Dwyane showed nothing but professionalism around our young guys last year, so I feel pretty good about that.”
However, despite Wade’s decision to come back and Paxson‘s seeming approval, the former Miami Heat star could be bought out at some point next season.
ESPN’s Zach Lowe suggested that Wade is a lock to get bought out next year, surmising that the struggling state of the Chicago franchise would make such a decision the obvious move.
Lowe also speculated that the Bulls could go into a tanking mode next year with the hope of getting a high draft choice, since it doesn’t look like other teams will follow in that pursuit in 2017-18.
The idea that Wade will be cut next year was also put forth by Marla Ridenour of the Akron Beacon-Journal. She backed that idea by adding a forthright draft night quote from Paxson talking about the future of the team.
“What we’ve done tonight is set a direction,” Paxson said, per Ridenour. “We’re going to do it with young players. We’re going to be disciplined and patient.”
The Bulls are changing their game plan, and it seems likely that next season will be sacrificed to give the team a better chance at building a winning and cohesive team in the future.
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